Home to NATO, the European Union and some of the world’s strongest beer, Belgium is a country whose boldness belies its modest size. It’s a sentiment that manifests itself in many forms throughout the nation (just look at the size of their waffles), and not least when it comes to their music festivals.
Since the late 70s Rock Werchter has steadily established itself as perhaps Belgium’s most renowned and internationally commended festival that has hosted rock greats from Talking Heads to Radiohead, albeit it is closely followed by the likes of Pukkelpop and Dour. Though the latter has historically had more variety of genres in its acts, in recent years both Rock Werchter and Pukkelpop have broadened their focus to accommodate popular dance and pop styles.
Belgium’s (relatively) smaller-scale city festivals are of note, too. Every July Gent Jazz Festival brings a clowder of jazz-cats from around the world to the picturesque medieval city, whilst the cobbled streets of Bruges welcome a consistently hip and pleasing lineup at Cactus Festival.
Over in Wallonia (the French-speaking part), Couleur Café in Brussels prides itself on celebrating world cultures from its range of music acts to the food on offer, whilst Liege’s Les Ardentes has been particularly adept at adapting to changing trends in music.
But though the list could go on, there is one festival that in scale and impact blows its peers out of the water. Situated in the unassuming but appropriately named town of Boom, over the past decade and a half Tomorrowland has rocketed with a kaleidoscopic bang to become one of the world’s largest and most iconic festivals and is thus one of the country’s proudest exports.